Belladonna Summary and Reviews

Belladonna

by Dasa Drndric (author), Celia Hawkesworth (translator)

Belladonna by Dasa Drndric (author), Celia Hawkesworth (translator)
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  • Publishes in USA 
    Oct 24, 2017
    400 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

From the author of the highly acclaimed Trieste, a fierce novel about history, memory, and illness.

Andreas Ban, a psychologist who does not psychologize anymore and a writer who no longer writes, lives alone in a coastal town in Croatia. He sifts through the remnants of his life - his research, books, photographs - remembering old lovers and friends, the events of WWII, and the breakup of Yugoslavia. Ban's memories of Belgrade, Amsterdam, and Toronto alternate with meditations on the mental faculties of rats, a depressed arctic fox, and the agelessness of lobsters. He tries to push the past away, to "land on a little island of time in which tomorrow does not exist, in which yesterday is buried." Drndic leafs through the horrors of history with a cold unflinching wit. "The past is riddled with holes," she writes. "Souvenirs can't help here."

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. An elegant novel of ideas concerning decidedly inelegant topics, empathetic but unforgiving." - Kirkus

"This work may well be the national novel of Croatia, whose identity is effectively merged with that of Andreas Ban, and what it lacks in plot propulsion, it makes up for in comprehensiveness, as Drndic takes on the chaos of the past and the unruly present." - Publishers Weekly

"We might call the novel experimental because of some of the techniques the writer employs. But the story...feels ancient. Undeniable, raw, and mythical. A novel in the documentary style of the German writer W. G. Sebald." - All Things Considered

"Splendid and absorbing… Drndic is writing to witness, and to make the pain stick. These dense and satisfying pages capture the crowdedness of memory." - New York Times Book Review

"This novel is a powerful warning. A fascinating book." - Moment Magazine

"Consumed with history and memory - the necessity of remembering, and the ordeal of forgetting - [this novel] conflates fact with fiction while flitting between cold, hard truth and soft, sensual lyricism... an exceptional reading experience." - Star Tribune

"Although this is fiction, it is also deeply researched historical documentary. A masterpiece." - Financial Times

"In this documentary fiction, the private and public happen at once, large and small scale, imagined with just the same biographical precision... aching with vivid absences, losses, disappearances. This one story is freighted with all the pain and detail of its myriad predecessors." - The Independent (UK)

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Daša Drndic is a Croatian novelist, playwright, critic, and author of radio plays and documentaries. Trieste, her first novel to be translated into English, was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2013.

Celia Hawkesworth has translated The Museum of Unconditional Surrender by Dubravka Ugrešic, Leica Format by Daša Drndic, and Omer-Pasha Latas by the Nobel Prize–winner Ivo Andric.

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